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Tips for Teens When Taking College Tours

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It was my first official college tour and in that moment I had wanted to go to New York University so badly. I was finally here in New York, in Greenwich Village. I walked to the admissions office without my mom there to guide me across the busy street.

It was one of the college tours that I didn’t do much and pay attention and I didn’t know about the experience. For me, I didn’t do anything correctly.

I still love the school just as much, but I wish I went in there with confidence and milked out the experience, getting as much out of it as I could. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes as me.

Touring colleges is a part of a big decision in your life. You’re going to attend the school of your choice for the next four years. With that in mind, here are some tips to ease the college tour process.

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Getting in the Right Mindset for Your College Tour

The process of having to tour colleges might be tough. Before the tours, you should get into the right mindset, so that your approach to everything works out in your best interests. Here are some general things to keep in mind when preparing to and actually going on a college tour:

1.Figure out what matters to you the most in the college tour process whether it be tuition, room and board, academic programs, location, study abroad, or scholarships to name a few.

2. Consider your financial situation and resources, what you are able to achieve with those resources, and what you want to be able to achieve (whether that be long term or short term, educational, or personal) at your selected college. Everyone is looking for something different and may have different ways to meet their goals.

3. Approach every aspect of the college tour with an open mind. Think of the potential in each college and all of the opportunities you could have there. This will allow you to further realize your interests and you might find a college that you never thought you would attend.

4. Do your research before you go, especially if you are going on a self guided tour. Figure out what times are appropriate and if possible tour the school more than once at different times during the year to really get a gist of what your experience might be.

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Planning Your College Tour

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Now that you’re in the right mindset for your college tour, it’s time to plan and visit. You still want to keep the previous tips in mind, just in case it helps you in narrowing down your choices.

1. Always stop by the admissions office, preferably first, since they will have pamphlets that talk about the college, programs within it, and students’ experiences. There you can also ask questions about the admissions process and possibly get insiders.

When I visited NYU, the office was full of people I didn’t know, so I decided to guide my attention to the shelf next to me full of pamphlets, eventually grabbing one of each, like the tip mentioned below, so I have information and visuals to look at later on.

2. Pay attention to everything around you. It is good to pick up on as much as possible about your surroundings. This can prompt you to ask important questions and notice what you like and do not like, which will help in choosing which college you’d like to attend.

3. Take pictures and write things down. Take pictures of the campus, the important areas around the campus, specifically housing, and other important buildings such as, sports facilities if your main focus is sports. Taking notes helps for jotting down important information on the tour, such as financial aid, campus organizations you may want to join, housing options, and responses given by any tour guides or officials — all things necessary to help you make your final decision about the college.

4. Prepare for an all-day tour. That means your phone should be charged, you should eat before you go or bring a snack, and bring any writing utensils to write things down.

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To Be Guided or Self Guide?

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Most tour guides will tell you important information, but will mainly tell you cool facts about the school. It’s nice to know cool facts, and they might even make you more interested in the school, but those facts will most likely be what you think about least during the application process and if you attend that college.

Don’t be afraid to  ask the tour guides questions. Ask them about their experience, how they got into the school, and what they plan to do in the future. Ask them about scholarships they applied for or what scholarships the school offers. Even ask them about what there is to do around the area.

Some tour guides might allow a small amount of time to introduce yourself and mingle around with the other people in your group. This can be very important you might make an acquaintance (or life long friend) to hangout with on campus.

Most schools also allow self guided tours. I recommend bringing one or more persons with you, especially if you do not know the area, if it’s an open campus, and for any safety reasons.

On a self guided tour with my family, I walked pass the Tisch School of Arts building at NYU. Wow, I thought, and I just kept walking. My mom said I should go in, but I didn’t feel prepared to, thinking it’d be weird to just go in.

Go to the buildings that you want to see first. While I didn’t do this, I recommend, going inside those buildings and picking up any extra pamphlets that could help you with the self-guided tour process.

Also, talk to any official(s) in the buildings, who could answer questions about where to tour and the college. Whether self-guided or guided, take pictures to refer back to later and write down responses that may be important when making your final decision.

The college process could be intimidating, but college touring should not be. Hopefully, remembering these tips will help you find a choice most suitable for you. Happy touring!

Photos taken by Ameerah DeChabert, 17, Dekalb School of the Arts, VOX Contributor.

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